Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test

A cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) is an evaluation of the cardiopulmonary system.

Physical exercise requires the interaction of the physiologic mechanisms that enable the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to support the energy demands of the contracting muscles.  Both systems are consequently stressed during exercise. Their ability to respond adequately to this stress is a measure of their physiologic competence.

  • Studies are performed under the direction of the cardiology and pulmonary divisions
  • Emphasis of testing may be influenced by the requesting division
    • Cardiac patients have more detailed electrocardiogram (ECG)/hemodynamic monitoring during testing
    • Pulmonary patient studies may include bronchial provocation with exercise testing
  • Exercise modalities
    • Bicycle ergometer
    • Treadmill
    • Selection of modality and protocol are dependent upon the requesting physician, level of fitness and health, weight, age, and patient preference


Wassserman, Karlman: Principles of Exercise Testing and Interpretation.  Lea & Febinger Co 1994

Reasons someone may be tested

Detection of suspected cardiopulmonary disease and/or severity of disease.

  • Cardiac disease
    • Myocardial ischemia
    • Cardiac rhythm/rate evaluation
    • Blood pressure response
  • Pulmonary disease
    • Asses status/treatment, i.e. need for supplemental O2
    • Detection of exercise induced asthma (EIA)
  • Symptomatic exercise
    • Chest pain
    • Dizziness
    • SOB
  • Assessing physical fitness
    • Musculoskeletal disease
    • Endurance strength versus anaerobic threshold
  • Charting course of progressive disease or evaluating treatment
  • Assessing success of rehabilitation program/surgical conditions


An evaluation of the cardiopulmonary system.